At least five lawyers in Haryana’s Nuh district have alleged that they were harassed by police officials on the pretext of the police probe into the recent communal violence in the state.
Only two of these five lawyers were linked to legal cases pertaining to the Haryana violence, but they alleged that they had been targeted either because of their faith or their profession.
One of the five lawyers was arrested in an attempt to murder case. He was granted bail two weeks later, after the court observed that there was no evidence to suggest his participation in violence.
Four other lawyers were detained by the police, but they claimed that they were not even informed about the cases they were held for when the police came to detain them. Two of the four who were detained alleged that they were assaulted.
A peace committee, formed with around 30 lawyers part of the Mewat District Bar Association, has approached the Nuh SP in four of these cases, requesting the police to “not harass the lawyers”. A formal complaint has been submitted to the Haryana DGP over one of these four cases.
It is not clear whether the committee will seek action in the fifth case involving a lawyer who is not part of either the committee or the district bar association.
The committee has termed the police action as a “method to instill fear” among the lawyers, who are from the minority community.
Nuh Additional SP Usha Kundu has denied the allegations of the police targeting lawyers.
Newslaundry has sent a questionnaire to Nuh SP Narendra Bijarniya. This report will be updated if a response is received.
Newslaundry also reached out to Haryana DGP Shatrujeet Kapur. This report will be updated if a response is received.
The arrest and bail
Shahid Hussain, a 38-year-old lawyer, was arrested by the Palwal Special Task Force on August 13. He was booked in an FIR lodged at the Bichhor police station for an alleged attempt to murder and under section 25 of the Arms Act. The police probe alleged that Hussain was in Nuh’s Singar village when violence broke out on July 31, and “had made 100 calls to a person”.
But on September 2, Nuh Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Kumar Duggal granted him bail. “No active participation in any violence neither there is any audio regarding his public speech or any instigation through the spot or through mobile,” the order read.
Hussain said that he had told the police that he was “merely passing by the Singar village” and that it was him who had informed the Bichhor police about the violence to seek action. “This is a targeted attack on lawyers to instill fear in us.”
‘They pulled my beard’
In another case, advocate Shabuddin was detained by the Sadar Tauru police on August 8 and was released the following day. In a complaint to the Haryana DGP, he has alleged that he was physically assaulted and abused in police custody.
The 41-year-old advocate said the police came to his house in Burhanpur village on August 2 to arrest his brother Zakir as an accused in communal riots.
“The following day some Nuh bar members and I had met the DSP Nuh to inform that my brother has not visited Mewat in the last one month as he works in Rajasthan. But we also said if the police have any evidence, we will fully cooperate. We were assured that we won’t be subjected to any injustice.”
A week later, over 30 policemen reached the lawyer’s residence, he claimed.
“The police were drunk. They broke the door of my house and barged in as if they had come to arrest a terrorist. I told them that I am a lawyer and I have met the DSP and assured her of cooperation if any evidence is found against my family. But they did not listen to me. They used slurs targeting my profession like ‘bahut wakeel bann raha hai, hum banate hain tujhe wakeel’. Then they pulled my beard, slapped me, and detained me in my undergarments. They did not even let me wear clothes.”
“At the police station, they kept abusing me for my profession and religion the whole night….I was released in the afternoon.”
Shabuddin said he feels too traumatised to attend court.
‘They did not listen to me’
Three other lawyers, Shafiq, Rahis Ahmed and Adil Khan, made similar allegations.
On August 1, Shafiq was detained by the STF during a raid in Hidayat colony in Nuh. He was released the next day. “I had told the police that I am a lawyer but they did not even listen to me. But I believe that they did not torture me because of my profession.”
On August 25, Rahis Ahmed was detained by personnel from the Haryana Police’s Crime Investigating Agency when he was at his office in Punhana. “Over a dozen police personnel came to detain me. I told them that I am a lawyer but they did not listen. I was not even told why they were detaining me but I cooperated with them. First they took me to the CIA police station and then to the Bichhor police station. There they inquired about my involvement in the violence.”
He was released a few hours later.
Rahis claimed that he has been helping senior lawyer Tahir Hussain in fighting cases related to the communal violence in Nuh. “The entire incident can be seen as the police’s method to instill fear amongst advocates because they never did this to us before.”
Meanwhile, Aadil Khan was detained the same day from Punhana. “My client Khatuni was injured in a police raid in her village Neem Kheda. So, I accompanied her to get her Medico Legal Report in CHC Punhana. In the afternoon, while we were inside the health center, the CIA officers barged in and detained us. I told them that I am a lawyer and just doing my job. But they said ‘we have seen many lawyers like you’. They also threatened to book me in a murder case.”
Khan said he was released at night. “They are targeting us only because of our profession. Because they have been arresting innocent people blindly…but we are helping them.”
The committee’s requests
The committee, which had helped Shabuddin file a complaint with the DGP, is considering whether it should also file a complaint in Shahid Hussain’s case, who is not part of the district bar association.
In the cases involving Safique, Rahis Ahmed, and Shahid Hussain, the committee and bar members said they haven’t filed a formal complaint but have repeatedly met the Nuh SP seeking action.
Tahir Hussain, a member of the committee and former president of the bar association said, “Every time our lawyers were detained, around 100 members of the bar met the SP. We assured him if the police have evidence, we will stand by the police. But, because there is none in these cases, it is clear harassment of the lawyers...Each time, he assured us that this won’t be repeated, but his promise has not been fulfilled. This is the first time lawyers in Mewat are witnessing harassment by the police.”
A weekly guide to the best of our stories from our editors and reporters. Note: Skip if you're a subscriber. All subscribers get a weekly, subscriber-only newsletter by default.